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Psychiatry Res. 2011 Mar 31;191(3):189-95. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.11.008.

Amygdala hyperreactivity in restrictive anorexia nervosa.

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  • 1University of Freiburg, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Freiburg, Germany.


Functional imaging studies had often investigated heterogeneous samples of anorexia nervosa (AN) patients with varying paradigms and methodologies that had resulted in divergent results. The present study aimed to examine these issues by studying a well-defined sample of restrictive AN patients with a disorder-specific paradigm which had been used previously. Subjects showed increased blood oxygen level dependent responses of the cingulate, frontal, insular and parietal cortices. Group comparisons demonstrated increased activity of the right amygdala in the sample of restrictive AN patients. Our results are in support of other recently published functional imaging studies and point to a pivotal role of the right amygdala in AN. Signals of the midcingulum were reduced in comparison to healthy controls. The constellation of increased activity of the amygdala and decreased activity of the cingulate cortex likely represents parts of a negative feedback loop of emotional processing. Disgust ratings correlated with the amygdala signal negatively, which points to the complex role of this structure within eating disorders.

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